Dispatches from the Edmonton Folk Music Festival day two (Friday)
Friday night at the Edmonton Folk Festival saw some great names take the stage in Gallagher Park. This was the first night for the side stages, so I was happy to catch some smaller, more intimate performances.
The first act I caught was Maria Dunn. Backed by members of the McDades, she played a set of Celtic influenced folk music that ran through a variety of emotions. One favourite of mine was a song she wrote for grandmothers, which she performed early in the set. I appreciate that she took the time to do her own personal land acknowledgment and reflect upon the role settler colonialism has played on Turtle Island, and how we are all called to help with reconciliation.
From there I wandered over to catch the second half of James Keelaghan’s set. James played some of his classics and some new songs, including a song he penned with PEI’s Catherine MacLellan. I’m looking forward to hearing more of James over the weekend.
A highlight of the night for me was the “And They Call it Democracy” workshop. Hosted by Maria Dunn, she was joined by the UK’s Grace Petrie and Toronto’s Julian Taylor. The workshop kicked off with Grace’s “God Save the Hungry,” a take on the United Kingdom”s anthem. One can clearly tell her views on the idea of monarchy by listening to this song. It was a great tone setter for the next hour of socially conscious music. Julian Taylor spoke on the issue of mental health and performed a poignant song on the topic.
The last act I caught on Friday night was Greensky Bluegrass. Originally from Michigan, they described themselves as an “American bluegrass jam band.” The audience was impressed with their expert musicianship. I will definitely be checking out their latest album, entitled Stress Dreams.
The night was closed off by Fleet Foxes, who obviously had a large following in attendance. I’m looking forward to two jam packed days of music with an impressive lineup on both the main stage and side stages.